Community associations attempting to implement new traffic control measures

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We’ve all done it — seen the back-up of traffic in front of us as we make our way down the road during the early morning commute, and decided to take a shortcut in the hopes we would be able to make it to work on time.

But do we ever stop to think about the consequences of our time saving ventures?

With the population of Calgary continually on the rise, it’s understandable that the traffic volumes are also increasing. With many of our major routes in the city — including Deerfoot and Crowchild Trail — reaching capacity, it’s the smaller community roads and their residents who are suffering.

In the northwest of the city, 40th Avenue, which borders both the Cambrian Heights and Highwood communities, is one such road.

“Drivers that are commuting from the outer lying neighbourhoods to downtown are getting frustrated with traffic moving so slow on these major routes,” said Caroline Bartel, president of the Cambrian Heights Community Association. “Throw in things like construction and lights and school zones, and they try to cut through some of the neighbourhoods to find faster routes.”


However, while this may be quick and beneficial for drivers, community residents are not taking these tactics quite so well.

“The residents along 40th Avenue have become more and more concerned by the volume and speed of traffic along that route,” Bartel added.

Noticing a change for the worst

Cambrian Heights Community Hall

Members of the Cambrian Heights and Highwood community associations are hoping to rally the communities together in order to force the city to undertake new safety measures for the bordering 40th Avenue.

Photo courtesy of: Cambrian Heights Community AssociationCambrian Heights is certainly one of Calgary’s more mature communities, having been in place since 1957, so many of its long-time residents are able to remember a time much different than today.

That was when residents, along with their children, were able to cross the street safely any time of the day knowing that the cars on the road would stop for them, Bartel said.

Donna Stefura, a resident of the neighbouring community of Highwood for the past 15 years, said she has definitely noticed a change in vehicular behaviour over the years, and particularly worries about one specific intersection at 40th Avenue and Hudson Road.

Living no more than a block or two away from 40th Avenue, Stefura and her children frequently use this intersection to cross the road in their daily lives while getting to her son’s elementary school or going for a jog.

However, her experiences there have been far from pleasant.

“It’s a dangerous intersection,” Stefura said, “I’ve been going for a run or a jog and I’ve had to stop [in the middle of the crosswalk] and the car actually slammed on its breaks, realized it couldn’t stop and went on in front of me. I realized I could have been killed there.”

Stefura has experienced a similar issue once before, except that time it was her son who could have ended up in a fatal situation due to the behaviour of drivers in the same area.

Three years ago, while her nine-year-old son walked to elementary school, she heard the slamming of breaks and a honk coming from the intersection, but didn’t think anything of it. Her son explained to her later that evening that he and his friend nearly got hit by a car while crossing that same intersection.

“It’s a very heart-sinking feeling when you realize the potential of what could have happened,” Stefura said.

She added that what makes it worse is that the intersection lies in the “walk zone” of Cambrian Heights elementary school.

“They [children] are expected to walk through this intersection down here, yet these are the potential hazards of it,” Stefura added.

Making their voices heard

Since this occurred three years ago, Stefura has devoted a lot of time trying to influence change in the neighbourhood. However, between numerous calls to the 3-1-1 Report Line and petitions signed by residents of the area, she still feels like the issue is going unnoticed.


Build a boulevard
Bartel believes if you take a wide street like 40th Avenue and narrow it, cars will have to travel more slowly out of necessity. This is why she has suggested that one solution could be for a boulevard-style structure to be built down the middle of the road. This solution would still allow traffic to travel up and down with ease, but would stop cars from making dangerous passing manoeuvres and force drivers to travel slower. In turn, it would also be a refuge for pedestrians who are crossing the road.

Speed bumps/tables
Speed bumps or speed tables have always been a popular method in the past for slowing down traffic, and in many instances have proved quite effective. However, this method can also incur a lot of wear and tear on the vehicles, said Bartel, and is not something that everyone in the community is going to enjoy.

Lit pedestrian crossing
The thought of a lit pedestrian crossing seems to be a good idea for many, as suggested by both Bartel and Stefura. However, like all good things they do not come easy: “You pretty much have to have everybody who has a problem phone 3-1-1 and pester the city nonstop, or have somebody get hit and killed before the city will put one in,” said Bartel.

“There’s the frustration that nobody’s heard my voice even though I’ve done everything that I’ve been told to do,” Stefura said.

However, now with the help of both the Highwood and Cambrian Heights community associations, it looks as though her voice will not go unnoticed anymore.

On Nov. 30, an open house will be held in the Highwood Community Home from 7 – 9 p.m. to give everyone the chance to have their voice heard on the matter and discuss the possible solutions.

Currently, Cambrian Heights Community Association president Bartel has been considering various alternatives that could help reduce the dangers associated with traffic problems in any community, in this case specifically Cambrian Heights.

However, while most of Bartel’s solutions seem appealing from the community’s point of view, it is also important to consider how it feels for those who have to drive this road daily or weekly.

Cathryn Brewer frequently travels down 40th Avenue to get to her daughter’s school and says she has frequently seen reckless behaviour on the roads. While solutions such as those suggested by Bartel and Stefura would be effective, says Brewer, she feels there is only one fool proof way to make roads like this safer.

“The only thing that will really curb the bad driving in that area is to have a police presence there at unexpected times,” says Brewer. “The more people realize that the city is taking the residential traffic issues to heart, the more they will stop doing things that endanger others.

“Too many people have forgotten that driving is a privilege, not a right,” she says.


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